Ms. Ireland's Second Grade Class
Duncan J. Schoular School
Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada

The A Dance with Butterflies project fit in very nicely with the introduction to my science unit of life cycles. It was approached through the language area of the curriculum with Read Alouds, Shared reading and writing, research presented in T charts and Venn diagrams, and poetry writing. It also reached into the music, art, drama, and math areas of the curriculum.
  •  Read alouds: Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert A Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle Tony and the Butterfly A Ginn reader Darkness and the Butterfly by A. Grilfaconi
  •  Shared Reading: A Butterfly is Born by Melvin Berger Newbridge Big Book, small readers and cassette tape:
  •  Video: Rebecca in the Meadow
  •  Personal research books.

CHORAL READING: Students of varied reading levels worked together to learn poems. They worked on expression, clarity, and rhythm while reading the poem together. I found the poems on the web.

The Cocoon Author unknown

I found a cocoon that a caterpillar made,
Fastened to a leaf hanging in the shade.
He barely had room to wiggle or wag,
Like me zipped up in my sleeping bag.

I looked each time that I passed his way,
But he never budged until just today.
Something happened! He wagged and wiggled
And then climbed out and carefully jiggled
Small wet wings that grew as they dried.
He'd turned to a butterfly inside!

Birth of a Butterfly By Meish Goldish

A mama butterfly lays all her eggs,
Out pops a caterpillar, crawling on its legs.
The caterpillar first is rather thin, But then it eats till it bursts through its skin.
After growing nice and big, The caterpillar climbs on a leaf or twig.
It makes a shell where it hangs inside.
The shell then cracks, and the parts divide.
Inside the shell, a change was going on,
The form of the caterpillar now is gone.
When the shell opens, what comes out?
A beautiful butterfly fluttering about!

Music: Students of varied reading/playing levels worked together to learn to sing and play songs.

  •  Learn to sing the song Butterfly Cycle to the suggested tune �Row, Row, Row Your Boat.� Students use head phones hooked up to the recorded melody on the electric keyboard to practice singing the song.

Butterfly Cycle � 2003 Suzy Gazlay

Hatch, hatch little egg, I'm so very small.
Teeny tiny caterpillar you can't see me at all.
Crawl, caterpillar, crawl, munching on a leaf.
Crawling, munching, crawling, munching, eat and eat and eat.
Form, form chrysalis, I'm a different shape; Hanging by a silken thread until I can escape.
Rest, rest, chrysalis while I change inside; Now at last my time has come to be a butterfly.
Stretch, stretch, pretty wings, It's a special day; Soon they will be strong enough for me to fly away.
Fly, fly, butterfly, fly from flower to tree; Find a place to lay my eggs so they can grow like me.

  •  Learn to sing and play the song Butterfly Butterfly, on the precorder, Perform it as a rondo; play � sing � play. This was done by the entire class.

Butterfly, Butterfly Author unknown

Butterfly, Butterfly, Fly Away,
You were a caterpillar yesterday
Butterfly, Butterfly
You never stay, Always flying to a new day.

We know the fingering for G A B. I composed a tune using these three notes for the poem Butterfly, Butterfly. I printed the poem on chart paper and used three colours over the words/syllables as the indication of the pitch to be played.

ti ti ta ti ti ta ta ta taa ta ti ti ti ti ti ti ta ta taa
A Butterfly, Butterfly, Fly Away, You were a caterpillar yesterday

ti ti ta ti ti ta ta ti ti taa ta ta ta ta ti ti ta taa
Butterfly, Butterfly You never stay, Always flying to a new day.
(ti = eighth note, ta-= quarter note, taa = half note)

  • Create a sound collage on non-pitched instruments of sounds �heard� in the poem The Cocoon. The sounds are played during the choral reading to emphasize sounds mentioned in the poem. Students can choose from castanettes, drums, triangles, cylinders, woodblocks, sand blocks, bells, sticks, maracas and tambourines.

1. Puppet show: Art and puppetry

  •  Create puppets of the eggs on leaves, larva, pupa and butterflies using construction paper, straws and glue

  •  Create a large painted background.

  •  Perform a play with the puppets to accompany the song Butterfly Cycle

2. Display Posters: Art and computer

  •  Produce posters of the life cycle of a butterfly using construction paper and glue.

  •  On the computer type up labels and information about each stage.

  •  Glue the pictures and information of each stage onto a separate sheet of paper.

Drama: Movement

  •  Create and perform actions to portray the poem The Cocoon. The actors need to be trees, a cocoon/butterfly and a person. Special coloured clothing, a sheet and scarves are needed as props.

Presentations: For our culminating activity to demonstrate the life cycle of a butterfly the students were given the choice of choral reading or singing, and art or drama. Students worked in groups, with 7 or 8 members, on the two projects they were most comfortable with. Then two groups joined together to work on the coordinating of an oral and visual presentation. The presentations were videotaped.

The Cocoon

  •  Choral reading of the poem with soundscape of non-pitched instruments
  •  Drama presentation

Butterfly Cycle

  • Singing of the song
  • Puppet Show

puppet show

Birth of a Butterfly

  • Choral reading of the poem
  • Posters of the butterfly life cycle

poster buttefly life cycle

Butterfly, Butterfly

  • Performing a rondo by playing on precorder, singing, playing on precorder


  • Write poetry to accompany butterfly photographs taken by Mrs. Ireland at the Montreal Botanical Garden �Butterflies are Free� exhibition. Poems are printed on butterfly shaped paper and glued onto a bright construction paper background and stapled on the bulletin board as a border around our butterfly work.

    A cinquain has five lines.
    Line 1 is one word (the title);
    Line 2 is two words that describe the title.
    Line 3 is three words that tell action
    Line 4 is four words that express feeling
    Line 5 is one word that recalls the title

  • Write four poems one for each stage of the butterfly life cycle. Illustrate each stage.

    The 5W poem Each line answers a question.
    Line 1: Who
    Line 2: What
    Line 3: When
    Line 4: Where
     Line 5: Why


Using the information on butterflies in Waiting for Wings students created a multimedia art work of the butterfly life cycle.

  •   Dry brush paint the stems and leaves onto a beige sheet of construction paper
  •   Using small amounts of plasticene make 3-D eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises and a butterfly
  •  Label the art work with the name of the kind of butterfly. (Monarch, Buckeye, Painted Lady or Tiger Swallowtail )


An added bonus to our unit: Due to our spring being unseasonably warm this year, one of the students brought in two Woolly Bear caterpillars complete with research from the net. These caterpillars are destined to be Isabella tiger moths. From our readings we knew how to set up a terrarium and made our new friends comfortable. Soon after the caterpillars arrived, one formed a cocoon. From our research we made predictions of when the moths will emerge. How exciting for the students. We learned about emerging from a cocoon, we dramatized it and then we got to see it actually happen. On May 1st our Isabella Tiger moth emerged.

Ontario Grade 2 Curriculum links

Science: Life Systems: Growth and changes in Animals

        Compare the life cycles of animals that have similar/dissimilar life cycles.

        Compare ways in which animals eat their food, move and use their environment to meet their needs.

        Identify constant traits and changing traits in animals as they grow, and compare the appearance of young and mature animals of the same species


        Produce short pieces of writing using simple forms

        Communicate ideas for specific purposes


        Express clear responses to written materials, relating the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience

        Independently select stories and other reading materials by a variety of authors

Oral and Visual Communication:

        Create simple media works.

Visual Arts:

        Produce two- and three-dimensional works of art for specific purposes


        Create and perform musical compositions

        Create short songs and instrumental pieces, using a variety of sound sources

        Produce a specific effect using various sound source

Drama and Dance:

        Recognize and demonstrate movement sequences found in their natural surroundings (sequence of movements of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.)


        Measure and record the distance around an object


�  Susan Silverman and Sarah McPherson 2006